City Branding in 2021

fourLINK Blog

City Branding 2021

1st February 2021

City Branding in 2021

2020 put our world through an unprecedented test. According to the findings of The Brand Finance Nation Brands 2020 report, “the total brand value of the top 100 nation brands has dropped by more than US$13 trillion over the past year.

What does that mean for the city brand from a long-term perspective and how does the unprecedented pandemic and economic crisis of 2020 shape our cities in the next decade?


With a number of working vaccines in place, we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel and have a more or less stable ground to start our first estimates and planning towards the future. The brighter future -  hopefully.


It is already clear that there will be no going back in time. 2020 has dramatically changed the world, and the vulnerability of cities’ brands - which were not well diversified and consequently less resilient to external shocks - was laid bare as the COVID-19 crisis approached. 


The city's response to key risks and the impact of the crisis largely depends on the local government’s capacity to see the big picture and to embrace the long-term vision of the city growth. First of all, city leaders need to reset the strategic priorities and to rebuild trust between the government and the community. With people being the most important asset of a city, building trust becomes a key priority in the time of crisis. City managers who are able to establish a healthy dialogue with their community, are building the right foundation for the sustainable recovery of the city growth. Collaboration was always a necessary prerequisite for sustainable city management, enabling learning and experience and knowledge exchange. In time of crisis, it applies twofold.


As the service providers to the community, governments need to recalibrate their approaches to providing city services. With enforced social distancing and remote working and studying becoming a “new normal”, the continuity of certain services and economic activities can only be enabled virtually. Extended and strengthened access to the internet becomes an important factor of recovery and resilience in urban environment.


Furthermore, our new acquired way of life is calling for changes in urban planning and design. Cities face unprecedented urban infrastructure challenges due to transforming housing and mobility patterns.


Communities go through the hardest time struck with increasing inequality. The ongoing crisis has hit the communities the hardest, with its most vulnerable members being even more exposed both physically and economically. City governments who are closer to their citizens are able to better understand the needs of communities and take the appropriate measures to support them.


In 2021, cities have a unique opportunity to reinvent their brands and come out of the crisis even more resilient, taking the ownership of their future. At fourLINK we look at the current crisis as an opportunity to rethink and recalibrate our strategy and approach to city management and branding solutions we provide.


Our ultimate goal is based on our vision and values, to help create sustainable, liveable and resilient places, and we believe that the crisis should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen sustainable development efforts. The Smart City which fosters a circular economy are two such aspects which we will explore further in a future blog article.